In this post, I give tips and advice on how to frog, or rip out from a project, large quantities of yarn. I also show my method for rolling it into a center pull yarn ball without a yarn winder.
Sometimes despite having the best intentions, life gets in the way and slows everything down. I have been absent after a slew of events: out of town visitors, travel, and sickness.
Then, I started designing a winter cloak, while I was sick (bad idea!), and had to frog the whole thing because it just wasn't sitting right. So here are all 1100m of wool yarn rolled into one giant ball. I bought this yarn last summer at the Moesgaard Viking Moot, an annual viking festival in central Denmark. It has one of the oldest viking marketplaces and viking "battles". It was lots of fun!
Beautiful yarn and bone knitting and weaving supplies at the Viking Moot.
In the end, I bought 11 skeins of soft, un-dyed wool yarn (100g = 100m per skein) to make myself a cloak this winter and a beautiful hand forged iron clip to hold it closed. I spent several months thinking about how I wanted to design the cloak, playing around with celtic knot patterns and lace to get an idea of what would look good and what wouldn't with this yarn. Finally, in mid-November, temperatures started to drop and I began stitching. Work was slow at first, but picked up when I got sick and couldn't really move off of the couch or the bed for a week. In that week, I stitched up all of the yarn, Russian joining all 11 skeins as I went along. I settled on a pattern of petals along the top with rain drops cascading down the length of the cloak.
Then, when it was all finished, I tried it on. Silly me, I didn't try it on after a few rows of the rain drops. Perhaps I would have known it wasn't going to work. Instead, I ended up with a cloak that makes me look like a giant snowball, not flattering at all!
I decided to frog the whole thing! (Frogging yarn is a crochet term for ripping out stitches and recycling the yarn. Rrrippit... rrrippit... It kind of sounds like a frog!) It took several hours of carefully pulling out stitches, filling up a box with fluffy crinkly white yarn in the process. Knowing that wool yarn loves to get tangled, I then proceeded to make the largest yarn ball I have ever seen! The cloak will still happen, you will just have to wait a little bit longer for my next pattern.
Left: Detail of the first flawed cloak. Right: Sadly frogging the project.
In the meantime, here are a few tips about frogging a project:
1. When ripping out stitches, pull down on the working string to gently pull out the stitches. Yarns (especially wool!) love to pill and fluff and make you aggravated if you pull up when undoing stitches. It has something to do with the way the yarn rubs against itself as the stitches unravel. I found it easiest to hold the project up in the air with my left hand and pull down on the string with my right.
2. A seam ripper from your sewing kit will become your best friend. It has a pointy end that can easily get between two tightly would parts of the yarn and a sharp edge to break those pills that snag the yarn. Be careful using it though, it is easy to cut through your yarn as well as the pills.
3. When a knot forms, do not pull it tight! Instead, find the loop that seems to be wrapped around many of the other loops. There almost always is 1 loop that is the cause of the knot. Loosen that loop and gently pull the other loops through it. Often, once you have a couple of loops removed from the problem loop, the problem loop will undo itself! But the main thing is to not pull anything tight! It is much easier to undo a knot that is loose than one that is tight.
Here's how to make a center pull yarn ball without a winder:
All you need is a ~1 inch wide dowel, broom stick, knitting needle, etc. Begin by laying one end of the yarn along the length of the stick and then carefully wrap yarn back over it. For a normal half skein of yarn (100-200m), wrap the yarn for about 4 inches. Then, start wrapping back toward the center of the length you just wrapped and begin making your ball. I like to wrap always in one direction, counter clockwise with my left hand or clockwise with my right, slowly twisting the stick in the opposite direction as I wrap. By twisting the stick and keeping the motion consistent with the other had, your wraps will never be directly on top of the previous wrap and the yarn will not become tangled. Continue wrapping, switching hands as needed, until you are almost out of yarn. You need to watch the tail of yarn sticking out from the center and make sure you don't accidentally wrap over it!
Wrap the last of the yarn around the center of the ball and gently tuck the loose end into the band just created. Do not knot it, just tuck it in. Pull the stick out and you now have a very easy to use center pull ball of yarn!
Left: Begin winding yarn to make a center pull ball. Start with neat winds around one end of the yarn. Right: Continue winding yarn on top of itself to create the ball.